Senator to face trial for racist slur

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Roberto Calderoli refused to resign over the racist slur. Photo: Vicenzo Pinto/AFP
09:54 CET+01:00
Senator Roberto Calderoli has been ordered to stand trial for comparing Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge to an orangutan.

The prosecutor of the northern city of Bergamo on Wednesday ruled that Calderoli will be tried for the slur, accused of defamation aggravated by racial discrimination, Il Secolo XIX reported.

Calderoli’s likened Kyenge to an orangutan during a rally for his Northern League party in July, sparking an international debate about racism in Italy.

The deputy speaker of the Senate apologized for the statement but ignored calls by Prime Minister Enrico Letta and others for him to resign. A petition signed by 183,000 people all fell on deaf ears.

Calderoli’s refusal to step down prompted a formal complaint to be filed in Bergamo, despite Kyenge not requesting legal action be taken against the senator.

The prosecutor’s decision comes less than a week after another member of the Northern League party posted a photograph of a black politician with the head of a monkey on their Facebook page. Fabio Rainieri denied that the photograph, captioned “Guess who it is???”, was of Kyenge.

SEE MORE: Outrage over 'Kyenge' monkey Facebook post

Since being sworn in in April, Kyenge has been the victim of numerous racist attacks. In August an investigation was launched in the central Emilia-Romagna region after someone threw a banana at the minister while she was giving a speech.

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SEE MORE: Probe launched into banana attack

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